Common Issues with Breathalyzers that Cause False Readings

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
August 26, 2021

Common Issues with Breathalyzers that Cause False ReadingsA breathalyzer test is conducted when you are suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol. However, when you are asked to take one of these tests, you might be surprised by the results. It is not uncommon for breathalyzers to have issues and cause false readings, but when your livelihood and reputation are on the line, you have the right to a defense. 

If you were asked to take a breathalyzer test that you believed gave a false reading, you are not the only one in this position. A DUI is a serious offense and can have significant repercussions on your job, family, and life. The penalties for a DUI vary but can lead to prison or jail time, a suspended license, and hefty fines. To assure that you have all the required information and a thorough investigation, it is vital that you contact an experienced defense attorney immediately.

What Is a False Positive Breathalyzer Test?

A breathalyzer is a machine that measures the estimated alcohol content of your blood. While the blood alcohol content (BAC) is more accurately shown by taking a blood test, they are expensive and intrusive to one’s body. Because of those factors, breathalyzers are used more commonly. 

When a breathalyzer is either malfunctioning or impacted by factors outside of your control, the test may result in a false positive or inaccurately report the level of alcohol in your system. If you believe that the breathalyzer test you took resulted in a false positive, contact a defense attorney to discuss your options and create your defense. 

5 Problems that Can Impact Your Breathalyzer Test

Many people think that a breathalyzer has no faults and that the results are always right, but a breathalyzer is still a machine and can misread external variables. While these cases are rare, there are a few factors that can affect your breathalyzer test.   


Your metabolism can affect how your body absorbs alcohol. If you have a slower metabolism, your body will take longer to absorb the alcohol, so the alcohol stays in your blood for longer and you may have a higher breathalyzer reading.  

Vomiting before Your Test

If you vomit, burp, or hiccup before your DUI test, there is an extremely high chance of a faulty reading. An officer will monitor you, and if you happen to perform any of the three, you should not take the test until 20 minutes have elapsed.

Residual Alcohol

If you have leftover alcohol in your mouth or if it has been absorbed by food stuck in your teeth, the level of alcohol in your breath could increase. This is one of the most common problems with a breathalyzer test and is a concern for those taking one. 

Improper Maintenance and Training

Breathalyzers are sensitive machines that need to be calibrated regularly. If an officer does not perform proper maintenance or if they are unaware of the procedures that are in place to make sure a false positive does not occur, the test can record a false reading. 

Outside and Body Temperature

Your body temperature and the outside temperature can affect the breathalyzer. When your body temperature is higher than usual, this can increase the moisture in your breath and cause a higher alcohol content level. 

The results of a faulty breathalyzer could change your life. Discussing your options with a defense attorney is crucial to your case. A defense attorney represents you in legal conflicts, advocates for your best interest, and thoroughly investigates substantial evidence. 

Discover an Experienced Pennsylvania Defense Lawyer Today

Our team at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford are motivated attorneys with over 65 years of experience defending clients and providing nationally recognized legal services. We understand how complicated the legal process can be and will stay by your side every step of the way. 

We attentively listen to the questions and needs of our clients, so we are able to offer honest and respectful guidance for their cases. Our team possesses collective communication skills and work tirelessly to advocate for your rights during legal conflicts. 

To schedule a free consultation call 215-822-7575 or fill out our online contact form

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
Pennsylvania Attorney's
August 26, 2021
Established in 1952 by Irwin S. Rubin, Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. boasts over 65 years of experience serving clients throughout Pennsylvania. Renowned for its commitment to ethical representation, the firm has garnered prestigious accolades, including being named the "Best Law Firm" for its outstanding legal defense work by U.S. News & World Report. Their team of seasoned attorneys, recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, brings unparalleled expertise to a wide range of legal matters, ensuring exceptional representation for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations.